Trail Journeys biking the Otago Rail Trail
The Otago Central Rail Trail
The Otago Central Rail Trail is a year-round recreational facility, designed
for mountain bikers, walkers and horse riders (in parts). It is a public reserve
and can be walked or ridden in either direction.
Modeled on Rails to Trails projects elsewhere in the world, the Rail Trail
follows the former Otago Central Branch railway line from Middlemarch to Clyde.
All the railway's original sleepers, rails and crushed rock ballast have been
removed, and users now find a track similar to a gravel road. The difference is,
on the Rail Trail, there are no motor vehicles or hills!
Who are we?
Trail Journeys operate from the start of the Rail Trail at Clyde in
their recently refurbished premises. The business now includes an "Information
Centre" to give customers all the information needed and services required to
have a successful experience on the Otago Central Railtrail.
Trail Journeys offers Rail Trail merchandise, refreshments and a retail outlet
for cycle clothing and accessories, kayaks and kayak accessories. Bookings for
other activities in the Central Otago area can also be made through our new
booking terminal. If you need accommodation, travel, guided trips or wine tour
bookings in our area, Trail Journeys are happy to try and help with your
The perfect hassle-free option for cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail. We
organise everything for you - bike hire, accommodation and transport.
Cycle the Central Otago Rail Trail in style with our four day guided trip. We
provide bike rental, transport, accommodation and guides as well showing you
through some great local pubs and cafes. We'll also show you the historic towns
of St Bathans and Naseby, take you curling, show you around a classic Maniototo
station and check out the massive Macraes goldmine if you feel so inclined.
Otago Central Rail Trail Guided Cycle Ride Tour
Our guided cycle/ride is a 5 day/ 4 night guided ride starting with us in Clyde.
We will take you through the heart of Central Otago Rail Trail from Clyde to
Middlemarch. There is an option to end your journey in Dunedin, in true style by
taking the historic Taieri Gorge Railway to Dunedin.Other option is to take you
This package includes all transport, support vehicle carrying all your luggage,
experienced driver/guide offering full mechanical backup, accommodation, meals
(as listed), snacks (home baking), and cycles/bikes. As a last resort if the
weather is inclement or you're really tired you can retire gracefully to the bus
to complete the days ride.
This cycle/biking adventure explores the historic gold mining remote picturesque
landscape of the Central Otago. You will cycle on the rail trail where there are
no vehicles and no real hills, making this safe and enjoyable for people of all
ages and experience. This adventure is a “true” New Zealand experience. Each day
you’ll be riding through heart of the Maniototo, the locals name for the area,
past historic sites and quaint old towns. At night you may end up sharing a beer
(and a “yarn”) with a local “Cockie” (or farmer).
History This guided cycle tour travels through the remote Central Otago area of
the South Island of New Zealand. This is New Zealand's only multi-day cycle
trail on an old historic railway line which is 150 km in length. The rail trail
follows the former Otago Central Branch railway line from Clyde to Middlemarch.
This line was constructed at the turn of the 20th century and completed in 1921,
having taken 42 years to complete and providing a vital link to New Zealand's
major goldfields in Central Otago.
Details Five Day Otago Central Rail
Trail Guided Cycle Ride Tour
Otago Rail Trail Supported Day Trips
Our fully supported day trips are the perfect solution for visitors wanting a
cycling experience on the very best of the Otago Rail Trail, we provide bikes,
instructions and transport. Options include starting from Queenstown, Clyde or
Dunedin, the perfect day out.
Details Otago Rail Trail Supported Day
Features of the Otago Central Railroad
The OCBR formerly began at Wingatui. The first 4 km of this line remains part
of the national rail network and is operated by Toll Rail Ltd as the Taieri
Branch to serve local industry. The present day Taieri Gorge Railway begins at
the 4 km peg and almost immediately begins a climb to Salisbury (145 metres
altitude) at the entrance of the Taieri Gorge passing through the 437 metre
Salisbury Tunnel. The exit of the Taieri Gorge is reached at Pukerangi, 45 km
from Wingatui, after passing through 10 tunnels (total length 1491 metres) and
crossing 19 major bridges (total length 1020 metres). Shortly after Pukerangi
the line reaches a summit at 254 metres altitude, the railway then runs across
the Taieri Plains to its terminus at Middlemarch, 64 km from Wingatui, passing
over a further two major bridges including the Sutton Stream road/rail bridge.
The Otago Central Rail Trail begins at a level crossing just north of
Middlemarch. This trail has been developed as a walking / cycling / riding trail
on the old formation and is a major tourist attraction in the area. The line
from this point gently climbs to Hyde, shortly thereafter reaching the summit at
353 metres and continues through undulating country to reach the major township
of Ranfurly. Thereafter a long climb to the highest point on the line, 4 km
beyond Wedderburn, is commenced, this being where the line crosses the Rough
Ridge mountain range at an altitude of 618 metres. In this section, the line
makes 15 major river crossings and passes through one tunnel of 151 metres
The Original Railroad
The Otago Central Railtrail follows the former Otago Central Branch railway
line from Middlemarch to Clyde. Construction of the railroad was started in 1891
and was finally completed in the early part of the 20th century. in those days
it took travelers at least two days to make the journey between Dunedin and
Central Otago, and even longer for freight.
The rail provided a vital link between New Zealand's largest city and the
country's major goldfields. And, for 85 years, the railway brought a steady
stream of commerce and activity to a number of towns and communities throughout
The Otago Central Branch Railway was one of the longest and most fascinating
inland branch lines in New Zealand. When completed in 1921, 236 km of track had
been constructed in 42 years, an average of only 5.6 km per year. Within that
length were 97 bridges and 13 tunnels, also five major summits, the highest at
618 metres above sea level being 590 metres above the lowest point near the
junction. The traverse of the Taieri Gorge in the first 45 km of the line alone
required 19 bridges and 10 tunnels.
As the line never served any major settlements, its largest centres being the
towns of Middlemarch, Ranfurly and Alexandra, its future fell into doubt in the
middle years of the 20th century. As roads improved, cars became faster and
restrictions on distances trucks were permitted to carry goods were lifted, the
railway's use waned. However unlike some other branches the line got a late
reprieve for a major construction project, in this case the Clyde hydro-electric
dam, which began in the late 1970s. This saw the section from Clyde to Cromwell
closed with a new terminus at Clyde geared around the requirements of the dam
From its inception in 1978, the Otago Excursion Train Trust (OETT), of Dunedin,
ran regular excursions on the line, particularly in the Taieri Gorge, and the
Blossom Festival trips to Alexandra became a regular annual feature. From 1987
the OETT began the operation of a daily passenger excursion to Pukerangi, the
Taieri Gorge Limited, using its own newly constructed passenger cars with the
regular OETT carriage stock.
It was announced that the line was to close from May 1990. Following the
closure, the OETT and Dunedin City Council formed a joint venture, the Taieri
Gorge Railway Ltd, to buy the track to Middlemarch. Track on the rest of the
line was removed over the next couple of years and this section has become the
Otago Central Rail Trail.
Holidays & Short Breaks
Queenstown Skiing Holidays & Short Breaks
Queenstown Autumn Holidays & Short Breaks
Otago Rail Trail cycle short breaks New Zealand
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